5 Ways To Restore Your Gut Health
by Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD
Last Updated: January 11, 2021
Some individuals may pick up a probiotic the next time they are at the store, and others might order an extra helping of sauerkraut on their plate to improve gut health. Both are good steps, but the truth is, there are many ways we can improve our gut health that aren’t related to food. Let’s discuss what the microbiome is and explain why it’s important and how we can restore it.
Our microbiome is a collection of all the genetic material and microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses, that live in our gut. Believe it or not, according to research, our microbiome can weigh as much as five pounds! The bacteria in our microbiome have many key functions crucial to living. They help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other disease-causing bacteria, and produce vitamins needed for blood clotting.
Good gut health is important as it affects our immunity by protecting us from infectious diseases and decreasing the risk for chronic diseases. Chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease can be linked to low diversity of microbiome. If we are sick and need medication, the state of our gut health can influence how we react to treatment and the length of recovery. For expectant moms out there, it’s important for you to have good gut health when pregnant to ensure your children inherit a diverse microbiome.
Before diving into how you can restore your gut, it’s important to know the relationship between our body and the bacteria in our gut is a symbiotic relationship, meaning if you help them, they will help you. The more effort we put into diversifying our gut bacteria, the better digestion and immunity we get and the closer we are to having optimal gut function.
- Consume more probiotic and prebiotic foods.
Probiotics are the good bacteria we can consume to replenish or add to our gut microbiome. Probiotics are found in specific fermented foods we digest, as well as supplements! Prebiotics are food that the probiotics eat and use to function. Prebiotics come from everyday fibrous foods we eat, such as beans, oats, bananas, legumes, onions, and more. Remember, with our microbiome, diversity is key.
- Cut the added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Overconsuming added sugars and artificial sweeteners can cause an imbalance of gut microbes and increase the risk for metabolic disease.
- Reduce stress.
No matter what kind of stress you are experiencing, stress itself can make the intestinal barrier weaker and allow gut bacteria to enter the body, causing inflammation. Your gut nerves can also become more sensitive and change the speed at which food moves through the digestive system.
- Exercise regularly.
This should come as no surprise, as exercise is beneficial for every aspect of life. Specifically, studies suggest that exercise can increase gut diversity in combination with consuming a balanced diet.
- Focus on more plant-based proteins.
Plant-based foods contain more fiber and less saturated fat. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in our gut and makes it thrive and diversify. Saturated fat, mostly found in animal foods like meat and dairy, can decrease diversity and can increase the bad bacteria.
As COVID-19 continues to make its way into 2021 and we find ourselves still cooped up inside, why not take this time to learn about gut health and what simple steps you can take to makeover your microbiome. If you are not sure where to begin or feel like you have tried everything, let a Kroger Health Registered Dietitian help you. They can work with you on reducing added sugars, incorporating more plant-based proteins, and provide you with the most up-to-date research on pre- and pro- biotics. They will work with you to create realistic goals, show you personalized products, and share recipes that align with your schedule. Get started making over your microbiome and schedule a virtual Telenutrition appointment today.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.
This content was originally published here.